The video installation by Simon Wachsmuth harbors an entire history – that of the artist’s ancestors, who had known displacement and emigration, and that of the twentieth century as whole, in which his family history is lodged. Dita Wachsmuth, the artist’s great aunt, had been in a dancer in Vienna. As the Second World War broke she fled with her husband and many others in Austria’s Jewish community to Shanghai, where she died shortly after, in 1943. Years later her sister, Gertrude Tenger – the artist’s grandmother, who managed to hide during the war – had received Dita’s possessions, objects that are now featured in Wachsmuth two-channel video installation.
A dancer (played by Loulou Omer) is seen while wearing and shedding ancient silk robes from the Qing dynasty. The robes, inherited from Wachsmut’s great aunt, are a masterpiece of exquisite sewing and embroidery, as can be seen in the close-ups played on the second screen. Meanwhile, Omer moves between cups and plates that are also part of Dita’s inheritance. The intertwining of objects related to his family history, through the series of actions performed by the dancer – dressing up, disrobing, traditional tea making – brings out the sense of mystery stored in objects that, like time capsules, contain life stories, histories and a personal-emotional value.